Tom Taylor brings the Iron Man of yesteryear to the present day, enlisting the dual artistic talents of Yildiray Cinar and Felipe Watanabe to tell "Superior Iron Man" #7. This tale is one of preparation and contingencies, reaching all the way back to the Iron Man Mark II (or the original red and yellow) armor that has lingered in the pages of this title.
The identity behind that mask was tipped at the end of the previous issue but, in "Superior Iron Man" #7, Taylor provides more depth to the character and uses the balance of this issue to get into the philosophical chess match between that character and present-day inverted Tony. Taylor, mercifully, does not leave this issue as a set of talking heads but, instead, sews in action and includes a fight that hurls Mark II Iron Man and the Superior version into space. To finish the issue, Taylor throws in a cliffhanger and reminds readers just how conniving present-day Stark can truly be.
The art is a stellar sampling of everything Iron Man comics can be, from unmanned suits flying into battle to cords, cables, charge batteries and transfer information. Cinar and Watanabe share similar storytelling sensibilities but, thankfully, the story provides a natural break for the two artists to tag out. Cinar handles the front end of the story and presents readers with a few glorious shots of the Mark II armor that colorist Guru-eFX fills with dazzling color and remarkable effects. Cinar's storytelling is slick and his character work is sublime, right down to the squared off fingertips that serve as a visual (and perhaps subconscious) homage to Jack Kirby's work on Tony Stark's alter ego. The shift from Cinar to Watanabe is not overly dynamic, but Watanabe seasons his work differently, offering more visual variety in the issue. Watanabe's style is a little grittier, but it fits the setting as Stark and Mark II face off over the future of "Superior Iron Man."
While I didn't expect to read a story of Tony Stark pitted against a contingency plan from Tony Stark, "Superior Iron Man" #7 is a pleasant surprise. Taylor, Cinar, Watanabe and crew have found a natural path for the continual descent of Stark's fall from grace, and it just keeps getting more complex and entertaining as it twists back upon itself. I'm not a huge fan of inverted Stark, but at least the story maintains a significant amount of unpredictability.